December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Stephen Pullinger
Thursday, December 29, 2011
As summer progressed, memories of the heatwave spring faded fast – and while the sheep were still in the pink at Henham’s Latitude Festival in July the 35,000 revellers had their spirits quickly dampened.
However, there was still plenty of heat in local politics with the King’s Lynn incinerator row continuing to grow – and causing an extraordinary kerfuffle at a meeting of the normally orderly Norfolk County Council when a motion calling for a public inquiry was stopped in its tracks.
That was the signal for Carrow Road-style chanting and slow-handclapping from protestors in the packed County Hall gallery and for Lib Dem councillors – joined by Green Andrew Boswell – to storm out of the chamber.
The Make it Marham campaign to secure the future of the airbase also had plenty of high octane air miles with MPs calling on the government to make RAF Marham home to the next generation Joint Strike Fighter F35, the future replacement for the Tornado GR4.
The spectre of government cuts was still having a big impact on every walk of life and Norfolk County Council was prompted to launch a Fair Fares crusade – quickly supported by other authorities – to recoup £4.5m from the government to cover the cost of concessionary bus travel.
While district council meetings often pass with scarcely a murmur, the closing months of the year proved there is still plenty of passion in our parishes.
One meeting of Briston Parish Council in North Norfolk dissolved into an acrimonious row with a councillor being carried out of the hall in his chair and dumped in the car park; meanwhile Hickling Parish Council meetings were proving equally heated with a bitter financial dispute over the new village hall leaving residents facing a 278pc precept rise.
Residents in a number of parishes were also getting up steam at news that a new generation of electricty pylons – even affecting the picturesque Waveney Valley – might be built to service offshore wind farms.
The shockwaves of the financial downturn were shown to be even affecting our pets with the Pact animal sanctuary in Woodrising near Hingham reporting a surge in kittens left with them by families who could no longer afford to feed them.
However, relief from all the economic despondency came with the announcement that work was to start on dualling the final section of the A11, news heralded as a significant help to businesses.
One of our hospitals, the James Paget in Gorleston, was put in an unwelcome national spotlight after failing inspections focusing on older patients care, dignity and nutrition, and the protracted fallout – following intervention by local MPs – saw the resignation of Trust chairman John Hemming and the decision of chief executive Wendy Slaney to retire.
However, it was appropriate that good news should herald the arrival of Christmas with Fakenham mother Madeline Brown heading for the Christmas number one spot as part of the Military Wives Choir.
JULY: Former county council worker Cameron Field was telling how he had lived his dream, swapping Norfolk for life in the south of France as a gardener and award-winning wine maker; meanwhile, in rather different circumstances, Andrea Hill, the controversial chief executive of Suffolk County Council, left her £219,000-a-year job following allegations over staff welfare and expenses claims.
Music fans were chilling out at the Latitude Festival near Southwold while members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment were also taking a break from the stress of events such as the Royal Wedding –down at Holkham Beach near Wells.
Jessica Linley, of Brundall, was reliving her year as Miss England, rubbing shoulders with the stars, while 14-year-old Ellie Burton, of Cromer, emerged as a new Marks and Spencer model, following in the footsteps of Norfolk girl Myleene Klass.
A red phone box in South Lopham near Diss was found a new use as probably Britain’s smallest art gallery.
AUGUST: The month began with a drama on the beach at Caister near Great Yarmouth when paramedic Mark Little was joined by village lifeboatmen in digging out 15-year-old Paige Anderson who had become buried by a wall of sand while digging a hole.
Farmers were warning that the end of government payments under a wildlife conservation scheme could lead to thousands of acres of Broadland being ploughed up.
The lonely track to Fishley church near Acle was packed with cars as people came to watch world-leading church historian Dr Julien Litten examine the lid of a 13th century coffin to try to shed light on who might have been buried under it.
Yousuf bin Suhayl, who lives near Wisbech, had extra reason to celebrate his A* grade in A level maths – he was only aged 12.
Thousands of people were taking Norfolk Wildlife Trust boat trips to see an osprey which had taken up residence at Ranworth Broad over the summer.
SEPTEMBER: Villagers in Runham near Yarmouth were preparing for the one day in the year when they have a pub – when retired headteacher John Poulter opens up his home (formerly the Three Horseshoes).
The public was urged to join a Broads Authority campaign to hunt down Norfolk’s Most Wanted – alien invasive species such as Himalayan balsam threatening the Broads habitat.
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was celebrating its 10-year milestone, underlining how its opening had heralded better treatment, more jobs and more doctors.
Meanwhile Andy and Sue Hilton, from Belton, were enjoying their own landmark – holidaying on the Broads for 25 years in a row.
Charity workers at the Barnardo’s shop in Lowestoft were celebrating a £129,000 National Lottery windfall.
A new report revealed that Norfolk was among the 10 counties most at risk of flooding with 100,000 homes in danger from sea, river and surface water flooding.
OCTOBER: The month saw the unveiling of a cancer and heart disease-fighting broccoli developed by the Institute of Food Research and John Innes Centre in Norwich.
It was disclosed that the famous Campbell’s signs in King’s Lynn might be saved after the demolition of the factory with the possibility of bids being accepted for them.
Teenager Billie Jo Mills revealed her sky-high ambitions after starting work as an industrial rope access technician, abseiling down a seven-storey block of flats in Norwich to undertake cleaning work.
Meanwhile, Dave and Angela Dawes, from Wisbech, were disclosing their ambitions – to make all their friends and relatives millionaires – after winning £101m on the EuroMillions lottery.
Passengers in Rockland St Mary, Bramerton and Surlingham made a surprise presentation to their bus driver Martin Harvey – retiring after 11 years on the route and getting to know all his passengers by name.
NOVEMBER: Seven common seal pups were released back into the wild after being found on the beach and nursed back to health at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary; meanwhile, another feel-good animal story told how the return of otters to Strumpshaw Fen had doubled reserve visitor numbers in the past four years.
A boost to Broads tourism came in the shape of a survey which revealed the astonishing scale of its importance to wildlife, providing the habitat for 25pc of the nation’s rarest species.
About 3,000 runners, many raising money for charity, took part in the Norwich half-marathon, but the event was marred by tragedy when trainee teacher Phillip Goillau, from Dereham, collapsed and died.
DECEMBER: Workers went on strike and took to the streets all over the region in protest against the government’s public service pension reform plans.
A delay of several weeks in felling a hazardous tree on the bank of the River Bure in Wroxham to check whether it was the home to bats was declared batty by some, including hire boat firm bosses who warned it could have caused chaos in high season.
Great Yarmouth’s St Nicholas Church entered a new chapter in its rich, 1,000-year history when it had the honour of minster bestowed upon it.
Former Canaries’ star Chris Sutton was pipped by his 10-year-old son James in the Santa Dash on the Sandringham estate – but it was all in a good cause, raising funds for Norfolk’s Tapping House Hopsice.
The year in pictures – see tomorrow’s EDP.